Tuesday, July 31, 2012

He ain't no sharpshooter

If Zoodle grows up and joins the military, I'll support him. I'll be proud of him. And I'll advise his superiors not to make him a sniper. The guy has no aim whatoever.

How do I know? The proof has all-too-often been written all over my bathroom floor.

Peeing takes, what, 30 seconds? It it really impossible to stay focused for 30 seconds? Apparently so, when you're a four-year-old boy. I've seen how it happens. He starts using the potty, and then turns to me to say something. But when his head turns, his body does too, and he starts decorating the bathroom in a shade I call "Stinky Lemon."

I first realized what a problem this was a few months ago, when my extra-sensitive pregnant nose caught the distinctive odor of stale urine in the bathroom. I cleaned the tile immediately. Then the same day, my bare foot rested in a fresh puddle as I sat down on a toilet in another bathroom.

"Zoodle!" I exclaimed, "You have got to tell me when you make a mess! This is disgusting!" My sweet kid tried to start notifying me after that, but sometimes he still forgets.

Sunday I discovered that awful stink in the bathroom again. Between us, the Engineer and I discovered puddles on the tile on both sides of the potty, plus more on the potty itself. Apparently my kid is making abstract art, with the whole bathroom as his canvas. Yesterday, it was still stinky, despite me using bathroom cleaner and mopping with vinegar water. I finally conquered the stink with Febreze, which left the tile sticky but got rid of the odor.

One of these days, Zoodle's not-so-sharpshooting will gross him out.

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When that happens, he'll learn to take careful aim, and the bathrooms he uses will again be safe.

Or at least that's what I'm telling myself!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012


Chickie has always wanted to test boundaries. I think some kids are just born with that temperament. In a sense, I like it. I am glad she doesn't automatically accept everything she's told. In another sense...


She's in a particularly challenging phase right now, and one of the characteristics of this phase is that she's testing me. A lot. She seems determined to figure out if I really mean what I say.

I've realized that she needs a couple of things from me right now.

She needs positive attention. She needs to know how important she is to me. I see her negative cries for attention and realize she needs good, quality time with Mommy so that she feels more secure.

She also needs consistent, structured discipline. She needs proof that when Mommy and Daddy say something, they mean it. (Sometimes we have to reevaluate whether or not we're being reasonable, but in general, she really needs us to follow through.)

You know what's tough about this? It all takes time. Positive attention takes time. Discipline takes time. As much as I want to spend all day on the computer, or crocheting, or reading, the fact is that my daughter needs even more of my time than usual.

And I'll be honest with you--that can be hard for me! Sometimes I don't want to do things that six-year-olds find fun. Sometimes I don't want to follow-through on discipline. Sometimes I'd prefer to do something by myself instead of letting my eager six-year-old "help" me. Sometimes I don't want to be an unselfish parent.

And sometimes that selfish part of me wins. Sometimes it's okay (even necessary!) for Mommy to take time for herself! But I'm really trying to put in the hard work of being a parent during a hard phase.

Chickie's testing me. I really hope I pass!

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Thursday, July 19, 2012

This belly...

"Mommy, you still look like you have a baby in there." -Zoodle, a day after the baby was born.

"Mommy, your tummy is big. Why?" -Zoodle, yesterday.

Well, Zoodle, this belly is big because it's done amazing things. It grew and grew and grew for nine months, to accommodate a perfect baby's growth. The skin stretched. It got one of those weird, dark lines down the middle. Underneath, I could feel the cramps of ligaments, as they struggled to adjust to the growing bulk. I could see the blue veins under the skin, and was reminded that it's not just the skin and womb and ligaments that grow; it's the veins and capillaries too. My belly button gradually got flatter, and then poked out on top, like a little nose.

This belly morphed in amazing ways.

And then suddenly, all that space wasn't needed anymore, and I was left with a partially-deflated balloon that has gradually shrunk down over the last weeks. But when my four-year-old sees my bare belly, he notices it's still not back to normal.

And as I explain to him and Chickie that it takes time for everything to go back to where it was, I'm reminding myself too. Because I know this stretched-out skin, this "muffin top" that pokes above my pants, is testament to the incredible ability God gave me to grow a baby. To grow three of them, over the last seven years.

So as I try to patiently wait for my belly to shrink back down to size, I'm going to keep telling myself this:

My belly, home to babies on three separate occasions, may not belong on the front of a fitness magazine. But it is oh, so beautiful, because of what it's done for me, and for my family, and for another family. With the extra skin and the dark line and the droopy navel, it is beautiful.

And I am thankful for it. Just as it is.

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Monday, July 16, 2012

Paper cuts and fence posts

Some time ago, one of my friends was telling me about something painful or stressful in her life. After telling me what was going on, she said something like, "But I shouldn't complain. There are so many people who have it so much worse than I do."

We often feel the need to apologize for our expressing our stress and pain, don't we? Liz recently posted about how much she's minimized her stress. How she knows she has a great life, but has realized she has to face up to the reality of the stress she's feeling. Good for her!

When my friend apologized for complaining (considering everyone who has it worse than she does), I told her, "Hey, the fact that your neighbor got impaled by a fence post, doesn't make your paper cut hurt any less."

If you live in a developed country (like America) you are probably aware of the vast numbers of people around the world who are far less fortunate than you are. Even nearby, you might have friends or family members who are battling life-threatening illness. You may know someone whose marriage is breaking up. Whatever you're going through, you can almost always find someone who has it worse.

But that doesn't make your stress and pain any less valid! Pain hurts, whether it's "little pain" or "big pain." And we're wired in such a way that we need support...for the little stuff and the big stuff.

So my encouragement to you is this: Seek out the true friends around you. (That includes "real life" friends and "virtual" friends!) And when you're hurting, tell them about it. Don't apologize for it. It's okay to reach out. It's good to reach out! And part of the joy of vulnerability is when you get the chance to be there for your friends too.

I'm glad I can be there for my friends, and I'm glad they're there for me...for the big stuff and the little stuff. Because whether you've been impaled by a fence post or you have a paper cut, you deserve support.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

I'm back! And I had a baby!

I wasn't quite sure how to announce that on my blog, so I figured I'd just come right out with it in the title of the post!

At some point in between my last post and this one, I had a baby. Not my baby, my best friend's baby. If that's confusing to you, you definitely need to catch up on some old blog posts.

I'm not going to write a lot about the baby here. I want to let Ann return to the world of blogging whenever she's adjusted to being a mama of three, and at that time she can share whatever she'd like to share. (I will, however, say that the baby is super-duper cute and cuddly, and does indeed have a gender, though I'm going to let Ann be the one to announce it!)

I'm also not planning to share a birth story at this point. This time it's not my story; it's ours. But I do want to tell you that Ann was completely awesome as my primary labor support! The midwife even told her later that she was the best labor partner she'd ever seen. My husband was fantastic too, and having both of them there was really important to me. But it was appropriate that the baby's mom be the one most involved in helping with her baby's birth. She was loving; she anticipated what I needed; she didn't freak out when I was in pain (loudly in pain at times!) Every birthing mom should have an Ann!

I'll also tell you that this was another beautiful birth at the midwife-staffed birthing center. It was challenging and miraculous and awesome. The baby was born into Ann's arms, and that seemed to me to be just so right. I was so happy to feel that way...to look at Ann holding her baby for the first time, and to joyfully realize that the baby was exactly where it belonged.

That's the thing.... I was so aware through the whole pregnancy, labor, and birth that the baby didn't belong with me. Carrying Ann and M.'s child was a joyous thing; I'm so glad that since they needed someone's womb, I could offer mine! But a baby belongs with its family! And being able to be part of uniting this baby with its family.... It was incredible. It was a huge privilege to be there when they met their child. It was awesome.

People have been pretty concerned that I'd bond with the baby and slip into depression after the birth, because of being separated from this life that I was connected to for nine months. But since the birth, I haven't once wanted to take that sweet child home with me! God really protected my heart.

That's not to say I've been happy 100% of the time. Of course I'm hormonal. I anticipated that. I'm also adjusting back to "normal life," after focusing so much on this pregnancy. Honestly, I miss sharing a pregnancy with Ann. It was an incredibly precious, unique, amazing experience. I miss that more than I miss the baby.

But even though it's hard to say goodbye to such a life-changing season, I know that things are now where they should be. Ann and M. are adjusting to being parents of three now. I'm re-adjusting to being "just" a wife and mom, and reminding myself that just because one important role in my life is past doesn't mean my wife/mom roles are any less important.

In fact, it's good for me to be able to re-focus on my own family. I found it so sweet to cuddle with my kids on the day of the birth, without a big belly between us! So yes, I miss the "shared pregnancy" experience, but I have a new appreciation for the precious relationships I have with my husband and children. And Ann and I built an intimate friendship that we expect to enjoy for a lifetime. I'm so incredibly blessed to have a friend like her.

So here I am. I'm back. I had a baby. And that birth was the culmination of an experience I won't ever regret. I will cherish the memories forever. The opportunity to share a pregnancy with my best friend was indescribably special. Thank you, Ann, for trusting me to join with your family in such a profound way!

After I wrote this post and saved it, Ann and I decided to publish our announcement posts at the same time. So if you want more details on the baby--including a picture!-- go check out Ann's blog!